After 18 years and $7 million, the artist Christo has won federal approval for his controversial plan to wrap a 42-mile stretch of Colorado's Arkansas River. The New York-based artist, known for his larger-than-life outdoor projects, aims to install 5.9 miles of fabric in segments over the river, the New York Times reports. The Bureau of Land Management gave the project the green light after Christo, 76, submitted an environmental impact proposal and agreed to over 100 measures to mitigate its impact on wildlife, traffic, and safety.
The Colorado Wildlife Commission earlier this year urged the feds to reject the proposal, citing concerns about impacts of traffic and construction on Bighorn sheep. But federal officials “believe that steps have been taken to mitigate the environmental effects of this one-of-a-kind project," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In addition, officials believe that the project will attract 400,000 visitors and generate $121 million in economic output, and "support jobs in the tourism industry,” stressed Salazar. Construction could begin next year if Christo manages to win the approval of two counties and several state agencies.